Illegal Logging in Indonesia Played Role in Fatal Flooding

Heavy illegal logging on the Indonesian island of Sumatra likely contributed to a devastating flash flood on Sunday that killed at least 85 people and possibly dozens more in the town of Bahorok. In a nearby national park, logging scofflaws had cleared nearly 100,000 acres over the past decade, said local government official Syamsul Arifin, which left the area vulnerable when heavy rains hit. Along with the surging flood waters came hundreds of logs from the park, which smashed into homes and other buildings. “This is not a pure natural disaster,” said Enda Hartanta Bangun, an engineer with a state plantation company who came to assess the damage. Longgena Ginting of the environmental group Walhi agreed: “Eighty-five percent of [natural] disasters in Indonesia are the result of environmental destruction.”